SQL Shorthand CASE in SELECT


Example

CASE's shorthand variant evaluates an expression (usually a column) against a series of values. This variant is a bit shorter, and saves repeating the evaluated expression over and over again. The ELSE clause can still be used, though:

SELECT Id, ItemId, Price,
  CASE Price WHEN 5  THEN 'CHEAP'
             WHEN 15 THEN 'AFFORDABLE'
             ELSE         'EXPENSIVE'
  END as PriceRating
FROM ItemSales

A word of caution. It's important to realize that when using the short variant the entire statement is evaluated at each WHEN. Therefore the following statement:

SELECT 
    CASE ABS(CHECKSUM(NEWID())) % 4
        WHEN 0 THEN 'Dr'
        WHEN 1 THEN 'Master'
        WHEN 2 THEN 'Mr'
        WHEN 3 THEN 'Mrs'
    END

may produce a NULL result. That is because at each WHEN NEWID() is being called again with a new result. Equivalent to:

SELECT 
    CASE 
        WHEN ABS(CHECKSUM(NEWID())) % 4 = 0 THEN 'Dr'
        WHEN ABS(CHECKSUM(NEWID())) % 4 = 1 THEN 'Master'
        WHEN ABS(CHECKSUM(NEWID())) % 4 = 2 THEN 'Mr'
        WHEN ABS(CHECKSUM(NEWID())) % 4 = 3 THEN 'Mrs'
    END

Therefore it can miss all the WHEN cases and result as NULL.